Common Blue-cup - Githopsis specularioides
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This plant is known from only one location in Montana -- more than 150 miles disjunct from the nearest documented populations in eastern Washington. The Montana population is small, however its cliff habitat is not thought to be particularly vulnerable to human disturbance.
Common blue-cup is a small annual herb that can reach up to 3 dm high but is often smaller. Its sparsely hairy to glabrous leaves are strap-shaped and mostly less than 15 mm long, with broadly toothed margins. Flowers are borne singly, appearing to come from the axils of upper leaves. The 5-lobed, deep blue corolla is vase-shaped, borne on top of the inferior ovary and shorter than the calyx lobes, which are as long as the leaves. Fruits are cigar-shaped, prominently ribbed capsules up to 15 mm long.
Plants flower in June.
This is the only species of Githopsis in Montana. Because of its small and inconspicuous nature, it can be difficult to detect unless present in large numbers. It could be confused with tiny annuals in the Borage family, such as Cryptantha or Myosotis, but Githopsis is distinguished from these by its inferior ovary. The long calyx lobes that surpass the corolla separate this species from other annuals in the same family.
WA to MT south to CA. Known from Sanders County (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
In Montana, this plant has been found in shallow, seasonally moist soils on cliffs with Selaginella densa, Microsteris gracilis, Collinsia parviflora and Arenaria serpyllifolia. In occurs from 3000-3500 feet elevation in forest openings.
Common blue-cup is an annual plant, and population sizes could vary significantly from year to year, depending on moisture, temperature and light conditions. However, it has generally been found in small numbers. This plant appears to do best on relatively bare soil, where taller, competing vegetation is absent or sparse.
The one known Montana occurrence of Githopsis specularioides occurs on a steep slope that is probably not vulnerable to grazing, timber harvest or other anthropogenic threats.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Hitchcock, C. L., A. Cronquist, M. Ownbey and J. W. Thompson. 1959. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest, Part 4. Ericaceae through Campanulaceae. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London. 510 pp.
- Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
- St. John, H. 1963. Flora of southeastern Washington and of adjacent Idaho. Outdoor Pictures, Escondido, CA. 583 pp.